This will be short and sweet. Today, September 22nd, is the annual observation of the so-called “World Car-Free Day”—at least in countries where people care about the air they breathe. For one day each year, on this date, many cities ban the use of automobiles. Obviously, most of those who participate in the observance go back to their motoring ways the following day, but at least they get to experience what it’s like to live without harmful car emissions. Even just for 24 hours.
But being “car-free” shouldn’t be limited to a single day. It should be a way of life all year round. Here are five simple things we can all do to help perpetuate the positive ideals of the environment-friendly practice.
1. Never cheat on your number-coding day. We all actually have a “car-free day” every week (at least those of us who live in Metro Manila and other cities that implement the rule). It’s called the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program of the MMDA (or another name if it’s someplace else), which prohibits the use of our cars for one day each workweek. But many of us stubbornly flout the policy and just bribe or intimidate poor traffic officers when apprehended. Enough. Let’s all do our small share in easing traffic congestion and reducing air pollution. We owe it to the next generation.
2. Buy a bicycle. You always hear the advice, “Ride a bicycle.” We say ignore that tip. What you need to do is force yourself to purchase a bike. Invest in one. So you have a more concrete reason to use it. Dreaming about biking is nice, but going to a bike shop and spending some hard-earned cash to acquire one is nicer. Do it.
3. Help make your community conducive to walking. Clear the sidewalks in your neighborhood of any obstacles that might discourage people from traveling by foot. Ensure their maintenance and cleanliness. And ask your local officials to provide ample street lighting in your area. Then develop the habit of walking. Ditch the car if you’re just getting bread from a bakery that’s merely two blocks away from your house.
4. Hitch a ride. Leave your car and just have a friend pick you up if you’re going to the same event (or vice versa). Gone are the days when our roads could accommodate single-occupant vehicles. Carpool and share the journey with others. Not only is this more fuel-efficient, it’s also emotionally healthier. Just avoid toxic travel companions.
5. Stay home and off the road whenever possible. There’s no doubt in our minds that countless road users are out there driving just for the heck of it. Many individuals just can’t stay put in one place, and always feel the need to go somewhere. Relax. Read a book. Cuddle in bed. Water the plants. Fix the broken chair. Meditate. Do anything productive other than driving.